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Archive for December, 2014

 GC Myers- Brighter Days Ahead sm

GC Myers- Brighter Days Ahead

It’s New Year’s eve tonight and we’ll shake off the dust  of yet another year and move into the next, all clean and shiny with that new year smell.  Well, that’s the popular belief.  We are, of course, who we are and no amount of calendar voodoo will alter that.

But that’s okay.  We should be okay with ourselves and just ride along on the tides of time.  Good and bad things happen along the way and both can be tolerated if we just can understand and accept who we are.

I think that’s why I chose this painting at the top and the song below to end 2014.  The painting is titled Brighter Days Ahead and has a brightness and optimism that jibes well with its title.  But the darkness underneath gives it some balance that keeps it from being too giddily gleeful.

Yes, there are brighter days ahead but there are some darker ones as well.  But having a belief in who we are, believing that we have the balance and strength to withstand troubles and accept the good with grace makes this brightness seem more tangible and less wishful thinking.

The song, New Year’s Prayer, is from the late Jeff Buckley who in his short life left us a remarkable version of the Leonard Cohen song, Hallelujah, and much more.  This song has a mantra-like feel to it with the phrase … feel no shame for what you are… as a refrain.  It doesn’t look forward or back with any hope or regret– it is just in the moment.  And that’s how I feel about the turning of this year.

Wishing you all a good New Year with the hope that feel no shame for what you are.

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GC Myers Ever ReachingI am now into the seventh year of writing this blog.  It seems hard to believe that so much time has passed and so many posts, well over 1800,  have been written.  I was initially hesitant in writing this thing, afraid that there would be too much sharing, that I would unwittingly uncover the less pleasant sides of my character or reveal myself as some sort of fraud.  The idea of transparency as an artist seemed at that point a very scary proposition.

But in the years that have passed I have learned that this transparency has not been the devil I feared.  If anything, it has added to my own perception of how I see my own work and what I see as my purpose as an artist.  I have learned that I cannot separate myself from my work, that these two entities are codependents, each needing the other for existence.  The work is a reflection of me and I am now evolving into a reflection of the work.

Or so I hope.  I have often described my work as aspirational, as being a hoped-for emotional destination for myself.  So it would be fitting that I move toward this endpoint.

As I reread the above, I realize that one of the biggest challenges faced by writing a semi-daily blog is writing it in off the cuff, in a diary-like manner without much editing of any sort.   There are moments where I hesitate and want to change or delete everything, fearing that I contradict myself or reveal too much.  But we are animals of contradiction and I am now comfortable with living my life in a somewhat transparent manner through this blog and in my work.  I know that it will show through in some way, either in these words or in the paint.

So I continue on.

It’s the only thing I know how to do.

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dr-strangelove-or-how-i-learned-to-stop-worrying-and-love-the-bomb-originalI’ve been on a little break this week but thought I should come back for a little Sunday music.  I thought that since this was the final one for the year that we end with a song that is associated with endings, We’ll Meet Again.  Most of us probably know it mainly from the end of Stanley Kubrick‘s great satire Dr, Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb when it was played as Major ‘King’ Kong, played by Slim Pickens rode a nuclear warhead like a bucking bronc to begin our ultimate destruction.

The version played in that film was recorded by Britain’s Dame Vera Lynn in 1939 and became, for obvious reasons, one of the most popular songs for British soldiers and their loved ones during World War II.  It has had an enduring legacy, most recently used on the finale of The Colbert Report when a huge assemblage of famous guests sang it to end the show.

I am using my favorite version by Johnny Cash from his final album American IV: The Man Comes Around.  He recorded this album right up to the very end of his life and this was one of his final songs from those final days.  The voice is tired and strained at times but the sentiment of the song glows in this version.  It fits the situation perfectly.

I probably will post before year’s end but if for some reason you don’t check back, have a wonderful New Year.  I am looking forward to 2015 and what it might bring.

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2014 GC Myers Season Filled with ColorI am wishing all of you out there a wonderful Christmas holiday.  I hope that you find the spirit of season and carry it with you through the new year and beyond.   And that spirit is philanthropy.

Philanthropy is a word that seems only attributed to billionaires and large charities that benefit may people.  But it is a concept that anyone can adapt on a personal level.  As a word, it means a “love of humanity” in the sense of caring, nourishing, developing and enhancing “what it is to be human”.  In these terms, each of  us can be philanthropists by whatever means are available to us because it is truly about a generosity of spirit.

It’s a spirit that is more evident during the holidays but it doesn’t have to be reserved only for a short period of time in each year.  Smiling.  Engaging with people, listening, practicing patience and helping those in need in whatever small ways you can.  None of these things seem like a big deal in themselves.  But on an enduring daily basis they can change the world around you.

And maybe that small step will lead to something bigger.  Hey, it’s worth a try.  Be a philanthropist.  What have you got to lose?

In the words of the song:  Have yourself a merry little Christmas.  Here’s a great version from the one and only Ella Fitzgerald.

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GC Myers Glory Run 2006It’s the time of the year when I take a slight pause and try to ascertain what the past year has brought and where the next year might head.  I often find myself going back through my files, looking at images of long gone but well remembered paintings from the past.  There are a lot of thoughts that come and go during this process.  I will see work that bring back strong memories of the emotions that brought it out from within and some that leaves me wondering where it came from, it seems so different than the work around it in the files.

Then there is work that seemed to be a constant in my body of work that suddenly stopped coming out at a certain point.  Boat paintings, for example.  They were a minor staple in my work through the mid-2000’s but around 2009 they suddenly stopped completely, save for a few ferry paintings.  I really have no explanation for the stoppage.  It just didn’t seem to need to come out over the last several years.

GC Myers Night Glides In 2006There is probably some psychological reasoning to be found but it doesn’t matter to me at this point.  Just seeing the work and realizing that they were a part of the body of work and may someday emerge again in some way is enough.  Seeing these pieces with some time past makes me look at them with a questioning eye.  Some are real anomalies that stand out among a crowd of colorful images.  For example, the piece shown here on the left, Night Glides In, is a definite one-of-a-kind with its serene blue tones and placid feel set against a lone craft, vaguely Viking in style, that is headed inland.  It could be the return of a warrior or fisherman or traveler or it could be something more ominous and threatening.

That possibility always comes to my mind when I see this image even though I personally tend to see it in more congenial and positive terms.  More homecoming than home invasion…

GC MyersTime and Tide 2006Another painting from about the same time that also draws my attention whenever I am skimming through is this piece, Time and Tide.  I always have to zoom in to take in the texture.  The texture in my pieces seem to shift and change over the years and the texture in this piece is different than that in subsequent years.  Maybe it was an alteration in the way I prepped my surface or a change in material but it gives this piece a distinct signature in that texture and in the perspective of the incoming ship within the picture.

Looking at these boat pieces brings back influences and thoughts that have faded a bit in time, making them seem rejuvenated with the passage of years and the gaining of new experiences in that time.  I can see a boat or two floating back into my work in the new year.

We shall see…

GC Myers Beyond Chaos 2008

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Bing and Bowie 1977Well, it is Sunday morning and that usually means that it is time for some music here.  Since it is the last Sunday before Christmas a little holiday music is called for.  This is a song that I have played here before.  It’s that odd pairing between Bing Crosby and David Bowie and the song The Little Drummer Boy/ Peace on Earth.

The story behind how it came about is pretty interesting.  In 1977, 73 year old Bing Crosby was in the midst of  what would be his last British tour.  While there , producers put together Crosby’s annual holiday special for American TV, this time with an English theme, a Merrie Olde Christmas.  It was filmed in September with a number of British celebrity guests, including the 30 year old rock star David Bowie.  Bing actually introduced and showed the video to Bowie’s song Heroes on the special.

On the day of shooting, Bowie learns that he is scheduled to sing Little Drummer Boy with Crosby.  He balks, telling producers that he hates the song and if that’s the song they wanted he might as well leave.  He said he was only there because his mother was huge Crosby fan.

Producers and composers went to work.  In just over an hour, they produced an original tune, Peace on Earth, that would be sung by Bowie as a counterpoint to Bing’s Little Drummer Boy.  The two singers both liked the new addition and the arrangement and ran through it together several times in less than an hour before recording the final version.

Bing Crosby died less than a month later and the special ran as scheduled in December of 1977.  The pairing of Bing and Bowie was considered an oddity then and producers of the show and song thought that was the end of it.  But bootlegs of the song circulated for several years, gaining in popularity to the point that RCA decided to release it as single in 1982.  It has become one of the most popular holiday songs in the intervening years.

I know it’s one of my favorites.  Have a great Sunday…

 

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Geloven Onderweg CoverI just received a copy of a Dutch magazine, Geloven Onderweg, which loosely translates into English as Go Believe.  I mention this because it contains an image of one of my paintings, Archaeology: Rainbow’s End, as the illustration for one of its articles.  I was approached a few months back about the possibility of using the image in this magazine which is published by the Dominican order in the Netherlands.

The article is written by Jakob Van Wielink and is titled  Archeoloog wit een mild hart which translates as Archaeologist With a Mild Heart.  Beyond that, there is little I can tell you about the article or any of the other writing in this issue.  However, I can tell you that the  theme of this issue is outlined on the cover with Trust and the Future in Dutch under the image of a small boy confronting a Mark Rothko painting.  Interesting image…

They used my painting in a lovely manner with the image in the upper right hand corner of a two page spread with the image also used as a half-tone underlay.  It looks good and I am pleased to be able to have my work exposed in some small way in the Netherlands.

Geloven Onderweg Article 2014

 

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Kada Show 2014 aIn today’s edition of the Erie Times-News, there is a review of Into the Common Ground, my show currently on view at the Kada Gallery.  Written by Karen Rene Merkle, it gives an insightful and positive overview of the show.

It’s always a treat to see how others view your work, especially when they make the effort and spend the time getting to know the work.  It is my understanding that Ms. Merkle does just this, giving each piece her undivided attention as she takes in the show at the gallery. This makes it easy for me to fully appreciate her observations and insights about the work.

In the review, she mentioned that over the course of my time with the Kada, going on 19 years now, that the Erie community had adopted me as one of their own.  That really struck a chord with me, being a person who has often felt out of place.

I have come to really appreciate the vibrancy of the Erie community, how it has maintained its dignity and identity through its transformation into the 21st century.   There is a lack of an inferiority complex  and a real strength in their self-belief which dispels any traces of  deference to larger cities.  As Joe DeAngelo at the Kada Gallery would say: It is what it is.

Most other  industrial-based Rust Belt cities have not been able to move forward with the spirit and pride that I have experienced in this city.

So to be adopted by a community that is proud of its people and history and looks forward with optimism makes me happy  to call Erie a second home.

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Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished.

–Daniel Gilbert

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GC Myers-  Sovereign Solitude smThe statement at the top from Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert is one that I have found very true for myself and many of those I know, although sometimes we tend to see folks captured at certain steps in their changing lives through our memories of single moments.  His words also has a certain truth for some of my work, as well.

  One of the paintings that went to my current Kada Gallery show was the painting shown above, Sovereign Solitude.  It’s a painting that has been with me for a couple of years now, one that somehow hasn’t yet found a home.  It was a piece that really resonated for me and I found myself surprised when it came back from showing in a couple of galleries.  It was in my studio for some time and I began to try to look at it with the imagined eyes of someone else.   For me, it was complete but looking longer at it, I discovered that I was only seeing it as complete.  I was filling in its blank areas with the knowledge of what needed to be done.  Without actually doing those things.

So I went back into it.  The clouds had been dark masses of red  and they changed to have more lightness in them.  The white side of the structure became much whiter and the tree, which had been barren, gained some light foliage along with a few falling leaves.  The mass of color that was the sky was darkened at the upper and outer edges.  Finishing, it still held that same satisfying sensation for me but now seemed to be complete, to not hold the blanks spaces that I saw as being filled in my mind.

I guess you can’t be afraid to change.

Here’s what I wrote about this piece a few years back.  I think it still applies after the change.  Maybe more so.

The word sovereignty often comes to mind often when I scan through the body of my work. The idea of the individual standing apart, self-reliant and strong, is an appealing notion to me, as it is to many others. This sovereign individual is still part of this world yet self-contained, it alone being responsible for its actions and reactions. It has made its choice and it has chosen solitude.

This is a scary concept for some, a life where we must take responsibility for our actions and decisions, where we relish our time alone in solitude. It is a freedom which we profess to desire but are often hesitant in pursuing. It may not be a freedom which suits everybody but for those who seek this sovereignty of self, there is no greater reward than living by your own decisions and beliefs. We may not seem significant in the greater world but we have the power to rule our own lives.

And that should always be remembered.

This painting is a good example of this thought.  It has a warmth and calmness in it that I myself find appealing. It is like taking a deep breath then slowly releasing it, allowing the effects of this action to be felt fully. The pulse slows and breathing levels off.

Solitude found.

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Snoopy and Schroeder DanceAt the Kada Gallery opening last week,  a very pleasant man asked if my work was influenced by the Peanuts cartoons.  He said the work had that same feeling for him.  I laughed and said that, of course, these cartoons had been a large influence on my work and probably the way I see things in general.  After all, Snoopy was the first thing I ever learned to draw, the result of an older boy on my school bus ( thank you, Tom Hillman, wherever you might be) showing me how to do so in several easy steps.  Throughout grade school Snoopy was drawn all over every piece of paper I came across, his Joe Cool and World War I Flying Ace characters being personal favorites.

I explained that many of those early cartoons — the great Chuck Jones’ Looney Tunes , the very early Popeyes , the Disney cartoons with their gorgeous color, and so many more–informed and influenced the way I looked at things and set a pattern for the way I would later interpret the landscape.  They created a visual shorthand in the work that simplified the  forms in the surrounding landscape yet still gave a sense of place and time and emotion.

And that’s precisely what I try to do in my work today.

For me, A Charlie Brown Christmas is as close to perfect as any cartoon can be.  It’s a wonderful blending  of mood, movement and music with a smartness and charm that never seems to diminish. For this week’s dose of Sunday morning music, what could be more fitting than the Vince Guaraldi’s Christmas Dance from it?

Have a great Sunday and, if you feel like it, dance along with the Peanuts gang.  It’ll do ya’ good…

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